Saturday, July 24, 2010

FENA - Fair Elections Now Act

FENA - Fair Elections Now Act (S.752, H.R.1826)

A "bipartisan" bill in various committees in Congress. The sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill are 23 Senators (22-D, 1-I) and 154 Representatives (151-D, 3-R). You can rest assured that it will be good for the country if both parties are supporting these bills. Want to know who some of these co-sponsors are: Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), etc.

Below is the partial list of organizations that have endorsed the legislation:
Campus Progress - Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest - Change Congress - Chesapeake Climate Change Action Network - Common Cause - Consumer Watchdog - Corporate Accountability International - DEMOS - Democracy Matters - Dolores Huerta Foundation -
Friends of the Earth - Greenpeace - Healthcare Now - Hip Hop Caucus - League of Conservation Voters - League of Young Voters - Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund - - NAACP - National Organization for Women - Natural Resources Defense Council - People For the American Way - Progressive Future - Rock the Vote - Sierra Club - SEIU.

It is being promoted as a way to fund political campaigns for the US Senate and US House of Representatives. The stated objective is to free up the incumbents to do the work of Congress instead of having to spend so much of their time raising money for the next fight.

Most of the above information comes from the website (as well as some of what is below):
A video that is against the bill:

So how would it work and what would it cost?
1. For a candidate for the House to qualify, they would have to raise contributions of $50,000 and from 1,500 supporters with each giving no more than $100. Senators would have to have 2,000 donations plus an additional 500 for each congressional district in their state, of $100 or less.
2. Qualified candidates for the House would each receive $900,000 (40% for primary and 60% for general elections). Senate candidates would each get $1,250,000 + $250,000 for each congressional district.
3. In addition to the above amounts, they would also receive matching funds for additional contributions of up to $100 each. For each dollar contributed, they would get $4 in matching funds. This amount is "strictly limited" to three times what they got for the primary and another three times what they got for the general. There appears to be a provision for additional matching funds to match what an opponent, who is not in public funding, is spending on their campaign.
4. Participating candidates will also receive a break on media advertising. They get a 20% reduction from the "lowest broadcast rates". Also, House candidates who win their primary will get a voucher for $100,000 to cover media expenses. Senate candidates would get $100,000 per legislative district. These vouchers can be exchanged for cash with their political parties.
5. Candidates could still set up PACs which could raise money.
6. The COST to fund this would come from "a small fee on large government contractors" for the Senate campaigns. For the House, the funds would come from 10% of revenue generated from the auction of "unused broadcast spectrum."
7. The estimated cost (apparently calculated by the politicians) would be $700,000,000 to $850,000,000 per year.


My thoughts and questions:

Three Republicans, in my opinion, do not make this extremely bipartisan. It is clearly a liberal agenda item. It is backed, almost exclusively, by Democrats in D.C. and left-wing groups. The two lists, above, have some familiar names - some that we on the Right are not particularly fond of - for some strange and biased reasons.

If the purpose was to let the elected politicians sit at their desk and work on running our lives, instead of going to fund raisers where they could get corrupted - heaven forbid, then why is the whole plan geared around how much they can personally raise in contributions? Doesn't that defeat the purpose? If the purpose was to keep special interest groups out of politics, then why are they each allowed to form PACs (political action committees) to raise more funds?

This also seems like a very expensive way of trying to get our leaders to stay on the job and lead. In the meantime, we would be funding everyone who could qualify to run against them. Is there another purpose of making sure these other guys don't do any fund-raising dinners, either?

Just a minor item - I thought that "matching" meant "one-for-one"? What is this, raise $1 and get another $4 of matching funds?

As to the discounts they would receive on advertising, how is that supposed to work? Will this law force the media to sell political ads for 20% less than their lowest ad prices? How can they do that? (That is a problem, unless by the time this would go into effect, the government has taken control of the media companies - then it should be no problem.) How can Big Brother force you to sell your product for 80% of your price? Will they make up the difference or just mandate that the media outlets absorb the loss? This would also set up a bias in advertising pricing between those qualified for 'Fair Elections"funding and those who are in Unfair Elections.

As to the cost, charging government contractors an additional fee, which would be used to fund the Senate campaigns is just a little deceitful! Think about it. A contractor bids on a project to do work or supply a product for the government. He knows that there will be "a small fee" tacked onto his bid to cover these Senate campaign costs. Does he just take the lumps or does he increase his bid to cover the added costs? I would think he would raise the bid amount. Then, when he is awarded the bid and gets the contract, the government pays him the awarded amount of the bid and he turns around and pays the government back for funding the campaigns. The contractor did not pay these costs, the government did. Do not forget that the government spends our money - yours and mine. In other words, we the taxpayers would be funding the Senate campaigns.

As to the House campaigns, no problemo here! This money will be generated from the government selling unused airwaves. What a racket! Makes you pity the poor sap who buys this air from the government. How could we be better off than to fund this from selling something that is just extra? Well, if this extra spectrum has value and the government has the authority to sell it, someone will buy it. So, is it that buyer who then funds the House campaigns? No, once again, it is you and I. How? If the government sells something that belongs to the government (you and I) but then gives the money to candidates in campaigns, instead of using the money for legitimate expenses of the government, they will have to turn around and collect that money from us to pay those bills. Candidates win, we lose, again!

Now, here is the grand deception. They are telling us that this will just be a little expensive and even though we now know better, someone else will be paying for the cost. Don't worry, nothing to see here! The total is expected to stay under $850,000,000 per year. In my book, that would take a lot of "small fees" and sold spectrum. But, as with most government estimates, you cannot trust them.

I ran the math, myself. These numbers are based on the following:
1. All of the politicians running for these offices qualify for these funds. That each Senator and Representative enters this program and that from each party (only two-Rep. and Dem.) that there are three candidates running in the primary who are in the program.
2. It is based on each candidate qualifying for the maximum in matching funds, excluding the extra funds to match some other politician's spending.
3. These numbers do not include the money each candidate raises during the campaign.
4. The "per year" numbers recognize that House races are every two years and 1/3 of the Senators run every two years.

For the House races, the total cost would be $8,961,000,000 for each election cycle. That is almost nine billion dollars. It equals $4,480,500,000 each year. It equals $10,300,000 per year, per House seat.

For the Senate races, the total cost would be $56,810,000,000 (over $56 billion) for each cycle of electing all 100 Senators. This equals $9,468,333,333 per year and $94,683,333 per year, per Senate seat.

When I add these two, annual figures together, I get $13,948,833,333 per year; not $850,000,000. For the total cost not to exceed this projected amount, offered by the government, there could only be approximately 100 candidates who qualify and use the public funding.

Remember, if all of the politicians qualified and used this plan, the average annual cost to the U.S. taxpayers would be almost $14 billion. Also, you would have to be a fool to believe that after footing this bill, the citizens would be getting open, fair elections not corrupted by special interests or big money contributors. I don't know about you, but if I ran for Senate and used this plan for "Fair Elections", I could run one fine campaign on $568,000,000 of your money.


  1. Dear BC,
    All of your objections, and more, are addressed here.

    You should not imagine that the 1/10th of 1% of the population who currently pay 60% of current campaign costs are doing so just to be nice. They are doing it because they are mostly business types or extremely wealthy individuals and are getting back far more in deregulation and tax breaks than they are paying.

  2. Big corporate businessmen are the engine of the economy. Liberals hate them because they are smarter, richer, and better at anything practical than any civil servant.

    It is very hard to defend your superiors. It takes a real sense of honor, something liberals lack.

  3. As a disgruntled UAW Beck Objector I understand first hand how the forced union political dues corrupt free elections with PAC monies. Because I chose to hold back that portion of my earned income that support extreme liberal candidates I was deprived of my rights to participate in union election, or hold any office. With so many dues paying workers now employed by government the problem only intensifies inequalities as observed during the past 2 years. Fair Elections Act Now only magnifies this dilemma. America was short-changed by Obama